Let me share some truly inspiring events that have been on-going in the Ormond Beach area (and surrounding areas) since the fall of 2017. I stumbled across a post on a friends Instagram page where they were promoting some kind of vegan pop-up dining experience. I thought, damn how cool! Why didn’t I think of this? But more so excited that someone was bringing some awareness to this underground community of vegans/plant-basers in the Daytona area.

The Vegetable Butchers is a team of two bad-ass chefs who have set out in determination to offer an upscale five course plant-based dining experience. These pop-up events are hosted in a community/family style fashion, that is both informative and educational. Josh and Tyler, the Vegetable Butchers, both have extensive backgrounds in the service/restaurant industries, as well as their formal training from culinary school.

I did my research and saw the food Josh and Tyler were serving, so I knew I had to get on the list for an upcoming event. I reached out to Josh on Instagram DM and inquired if they had space available for their next pop-up, and whether they could accommodate food allergies. I was skeptical on the response I may receive back, because I’m so used to getting a negative answer at restaurants when I plug my dietary restrictions. The response Josh gave me was overwhelming in a sense that I couldn’t believe they would be willing to accommodate my restrictions: corn and soy. So we were all set, now I just had to go to the event.

The first event we attended was at the Riverpark Terrace restaurant in New Smyrna Beach. I had never been there before, and I’m so glad we were able to experience the venue. It’s a quaint spot tucked away on mainland side, before you reach the south causeway, overlooking the river. Walking up to the venue, I felt good vibes and we were greeted by the Vegetable Butchers themselves, which was really cool and set the tone for the night.

[[**side note: Oddly enough, I know Tyler from our Seabreeze High School days. It was great to see an old acquaintance thrive doing something they love, and it is so very evident with the passion these guys pump into their creations!**]]

The room was set up in a community fashion with tables in the shape of an “U” and a demo station where the Vegetable Butchers were going to do some live cooking demonstrations. Mike and I don’t drink, but the wine was flowing and people were excited about the mysterious cuisine. I would say there were about 30 folks there and most of them were not vegan, which was crazy to me, but also thrilling. I thought to myself that these guys might plant a seed or two, and that’s exactly what they did. They took a surprise approach by bringing out the courses, then explaining the dishes in detail after we were enjoying the tantalizing flavors.

~Latin themed~

> The first course was an amuse-bouche served with an avocado-tomatillo crema and their queso/nacho cheese. I couldn’t have the chips, so they fried flour tortillas and topped with micro greens and I dipped in the sauces… I could have literally licked the avocado-tomatillo sauce from the ramekin.

> The next course was a take on tortilla soup with the avocado-tomatillo crema drizzled in. The soup was absolutely divine.

> And my favorite dish was the “earth scallop” they created from trumpet mushrooms, seared to perfection and topped with a cucumber/pineapple pico, again drizzled with the god sauce; {I’m just going to refer to the avocado-tomatillo as god sauce}. Additionally, they served a roasted tomato/cashew crema in dollops for the “scallop”, which was godly as well. The texture of the “scallops” was spot on and a sea flavor was infused through a nori paper/salt concoction. Utter food brilliance I say.

> Next dish was the main course… a take on a burrito/Buddha bowl, with seasoned rice, black beans, chili-infused jackfruit, god sauce, guacamole, and crispy tortilla strips. It was downright sinful, and I ate every single bite. Normally, I’m iffy on jackfruit because of how similar the texture is to meat (sometimes it freaks me out) but this was hands-down the best jackfruit I’ve tasted.

> The dessert was honestly my favorite, ever. It was an chocolate avocado mouse, infused with cayenne so it had a little bite to it, but the pepper naturally aids in digestion so I was all about it. The mousse was topped with chopped nuts (pistachios maybe), cashew creme, chopped dates and a dehydrated strawberry.

The thought and time put into creating something so unique is not to go unsaid; I was speechless by the end of the meal. BEST food, no skin rashes and was left with this wholesome inspiration to take the concepts learned and apply them to dishes in my kitchen.

During the event, Josh held two demos where he would come out and recreate a part of the dish that was being served to us. He created two sauces: the god sauce (avocado-tomatillo crema) and a chipotle pepper sauce that the jackfruit was cooked in. Very simple, easy to follow demos, using a minimalist approach to ingredients. The best part of the demo was that they encouraged questions from their guests. “Each one teach one” is their motto and mission: to provide an experience to folks who maybe wouldn’t have known or tried the plant-based life otherwise. After the meal, the Vegetable Butchers walked around and thanked each guest and chatted with them. I’ve never had that sort of experience in any type of restaurant I’ve been to before, have you? Probably not. I knew we had to go to another Vegetable Butcher event!

I wrote a quick review on Instagram, and both Josh and Tyler reached out to me personally, ever so grateful for my kind words. Writing a review praising them was a must because it was the experience they brought, which provoked such a highly regarded response and it was warranted much so! The food was spectacular and I had to let people know. Tyler asked if Mike and I would be interested in attending another event, and we were! We were all set for their next one.

Now, let’s fast forward a few weeks, and I get the results to some food-allergy testing I’ve been undergoing since January (because I just haven’t been feeling right lately). I discovered a whole new list of foods I cannot have with a main culprit: wheat. I was devastated (and still am, I love bread and pasta; I’m European!), but I figured I should let the VBs know we wouldn’t be able to attend their next event because of the allergy news —  to allow them time to fill our spots. I reached out to Tyler to let him know I was hit with the heavy news and wouldn’t be able to come to their next event. Tyler was very responsive, and concerned about the growing list of allergies. He and Josh saw it as a challenge they wanted to pursuit, so they said “come anyway, we will make you something special if it doesn’t work with the menu”… Who does that?! I was delighted with the compassion. I received some great advice about water fasting from Tyler ((as there is evidence it can completely eradicate food allergies in some cases — I’m still exploring this option, looking into holistic alternatives to alleviate the allergies)).

The second Vegetable Butcher event we attended was at La’s Bistro in Ormond Beach – very cute place with a Mediterranean vibe, right up our alley!

~European-Bistro themed~

> The first course was an amuse-bouche copycat of Bonefish’s “bang-bang shrimp”. They used cauliflower instead of shrimp and slathered it in the tangy bang-bang sauce. I couldn’t have my cauli’s floured and fried, so they sautéed ours to perfection. The cauliflower had a similar texture to shrimp, it was heaven!

> The soup was a corn chowder-esque topped with popcorn! I couldn’t have the served soup, so they created a avocado-honeydew gazpacho for me; which was the best soup I’ve ever had, especially for a cold variety. It had a sting of jalapeno, the cool creaminess from the avocado, and sweetness from the melon. Just fabulous… I’ll definitely be replicating in the scorching months of Florida’s summer.

> Then, they served a summer-ish salad with a dijon dressing. The greens were beautiful and local, with the perfect tang, topped with candied pecans, local citrus, red onion and shaved fennel. It was the perfect raw salad!

> The main dish was a “crab cake” served over orzo pasta, which I couldn’t have, but they whipped up some heavenly “earth scallops” and perfectly cooked zoodles in a buttery sauce for me…. with some sort of cashew crema too. Absolutely divine, I devoured that in minutes, and was so stoked they brought bake the trumpet mushroom back for me; I just love those little shrooms! The zoodles and “scallop” creation was bursting with flavor that mimicked very much like a pasta and seafood dish you would easily find in Florida’s coastal cuisine or somewhere along the Mediterranean coast.

> Dessert was a rich dark chocolate mousse topped with coconut whip, fresh blueberries and notes of orange/citrus from the zest garnish. Just soak that in now…. it was a chocolate lover’s wet dream. {{Sorry, I had to go there}}

Once again, the VBs came around to greet, and converse with their guests. Mike and I chatted with both Tyler and Josh for a while; they exude this relaxed, positive vibe for their attendees to absorb and take home with them after the excitement of the Vegetable Butcher event. They keep setting the bar so damn high for their events, I can’t wait to see what this creative, innovative duo evolves into!

If you’re interested in attending a Vegetable Butcher event, or just looking into what these guys are up to, check out their website:

https://www.vegetablebutchers.com/

Thanks for reading!

xx, Nat